One of the great things about being the touchstone for public intelligence is the contacts that are made by students, officers and enlisted personnel serving in the field, and so many others.
While we were in Denmark, an officer now serving in Iraq sent us some questions that we answered to the best of our ability. The questions alone are listed here. For the answers, click on the cover.
1. We never should have invaded Iraq. I have a less developed opinion on Afghanistan, but if I had to say one way or another, that was probably a mistake as well.
Do these mistakes fall solely on the Bush administration?
Was the administrating that incompetent or did they have an immoral and selfish reason such as fleecing the U.S.?
Was it shortsighted political gain objectives with an underestimation of the downside?
We will have at least double the amount of dead service members before these conflicts are over as were killed during the 9/11 attacks. I read somewhere that we have 75,000 amputees due to the two conflicts not to mention the amount of PTSD. Who has the blood on their hands? Certainly nobody is willing to admit mistakes.
I don’t understand how Cheney can even think about spouting off after how the conflicts have gone. Where is the cost vs gain analysis?
2. Once we did invade, we didn’t have a solid plan and we didn’t bring nearly enough troops if we planned on staying. Was this mainly Rumsfeld’s fault?
3. Why did we disband the Iraqi Security Forces? Without enough troops, this seems like the only way we would have a snowballs chance in hell of stabilizing Iraqi. The same guys that were so good at mortaring and rocketing the FOBs would have been on the ISF payroll instead of AQI’s or another insurgent group. Also, this may have also provided more balance between Shiite and Sunni? The former Iraqi military guys that I talked to thought it was a mistake because they said the “really bad guys” took off because they knew they were through. Was this Bremer’s call? What do you think?
4. The surge succeeded largely because AQI pissed off the Sheiks and they determined the enemy of their enemy was their friend and began to help us help them. Gen Patraeus got a lot of credit right? Where did he fall short?
5. The security situation here seems relatively stable. Using the water/fish analogy, the water doesn’t seem overly hospitable for the insurgent fish. However, the local nationals (LNs) I talk to don’t seem to trust their government much and many do not plan on voting because they don’t think it will matter. The open closed list thing is a big deal for the elections right now and it will be interesting to see how it pans out. The large VBIED attacks will decrease the standing of the government of Iraq and may hurt the current party in the elections but I don’t think it will be a show stopper.
6. The security forces, though not great by any measure, appear to be capable of suppressing the insurgency.
7. The political situation seems to be the long pole in the tent. Credibility and the ability to get a consensus is an issue.
8. Sectarian violence could escalate after we leave. Iran’s influence could also be a big factor.
9. It seems like the bottom line is that if peoples basic needs are met and they perceive a good chance of an acceptable future, Iraq may be OK. The only way this can happen is if the economy of Iraq can meet the basic needs and provide a big enough piece of the pie for the citizen’s. Can we get we get the ball close enough to the goal and can Iraq pick up the ball and get over the hump and reach sustainable stability?
10. I don’t know if you have heard by, with and through. We are currently pushing all operations to be conducting by the Iraqis, through the Iraqis or with the Iraqis. Partnership is a huge priority.
11. What do you think?
12. Could we have got in and out in 90 days if we had a solid plan and not had Iraq disintegrate? We would have had to keep the ISF intact right?
Concerning the mission here, we are trying to share best practices and lessons learned. As I mentioned in my other e-mail we are also looking at other ways to contribute to the effort during white space. I am also trying to personally gain a better understanding of COIN, Stability Ops and become a more rounded officer. As a citizen I am trying to understand the USA and its OE, space ship earth and where we are headed as a country and as a planet. Tall orders I guess.